Durham bar owner selling cocktail infuser kits for 'fighting chance' during Phase 2 closure

Elaina Athans Image
Thursday, May 28, 2020
Durham bar owner selling cocktail infuser kits for 'fighting chance' during Phase 2 closure
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Durham bar owner selling cocktail infuser kits for 'fighting chance' during Phase 2 closure

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham bar Kingfisher is now selling infuser kits.

The inside of a mason jar has been lined with local beeswax. Customers can put their favorite spirit inside then after 3 or 4 days of marinating you get this silky, honey-infused liquor.

Owner Sean Umstead said he's done well with the kits, but could sell even more and make more money if lawmakers would only understand bars are drowning in losses.

"They were willing to let bars flounder even though they're a huge economic engine for the state," he said.

He is reporting a 90 percent nosedive in sales at Kingfisher during the COVID crisis.

Umstead said bars could really get back on solid ground if they were allowed to sell "to-go" cocktails.

A proposal that would have allowed North Carolina establishments to sell mixed drinks for takeout and delivery was yanked out our state's relief bill.

North Carolina bars could reopen, serve customers outside in bill advancing in General Assembly

Newsgathering partner The News & Observer reported one Republican lawmaker felt the measure would provide better access to drinking and driving.

Umstead believes the position was hypocritical.

"I was insulted I think as much as infuriated," he said. "You have beer and wine being sold from liquor stores the entire pandemic. We don't have a rash of people popping open beers and downing mini bottles on the way back to their house. People are smarter than that."


Umstead is trying to make it through the shutdown, which for bar owners just continues to drag on. The industry was not included in Phase 2.

North Carolina will move into Phase 2 on Friday; Salons, restaurants can reopen but gyms must stay closed

He's urging lawmakers to reconsider the proposal and follow in the footsteps of other states that passed similar measures.

"If I could sell someone a sealed cocktail for when they leave here, I just think that completely gives us a fighting chance," said Umstead.

The takeaway - some bars are selling products to help sustain themselves, but they are looking to lawmakers to make a move.

There's no definite date when bars can reopen.

Lawmakers said they would reconsider to-go cocktail somewhere down the line in a different bill.

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